For all you hepcats out there who like to get hopped up and stay up late at night reading countless articles on RBM, this editorial might peak your interest. Now, I should preface by stating that I consider myself somewhat of a cola guru; I’ve tasted colas from all around the world. Colas from Germany, colas from Africa, even colas from as far away as Egypt. I’m also one of those people who swear that Coke tastes better with sugar it in, more so than it does with corn syrup. You see, the Coca-Cola Company has been in bed with certain nutritional elements of our national government since the 1960s, beginning with the Cuban…but, I digress. My point is I know my colas. So, when Red Bull recently released its “Simply Cola” in the U.S., needless to say, I was skeptical.
Walking into my local 7-Eleven and heading for the drink cooler, I saw on display something bold, something new. There were rows of them. Small cans, large cans, all in what seemed like perfect order and decorum. I stood in awe of this new marvel. Before I could open the door to grab hold one of these new aluminum wonders, however, a voice spoke to me. “They’re new,” said Clyde. Well, that’s what his nametag said. “New, huh?” I retorted, “Are they good?” Clyde, certainly one of 7-Eleven’s finest, gave an honest answer to answer question. “I don’t know,” he said, seeming somewhat irritated by my inquiry, “I don’t drink that shit.” Ah, sweet reassurance. Now I was even more intrigued. If this new beverage was not up to Clyde’s standards, surely it might be up to mine. “Thanks anyway,” I told my new stockroom friend. “Whatever,” he responded, “We have Coke too, you know.” Indeed you do, Clyde, Indeed you do. But my thirst was to be quenched by a new beverage that day, a new beverage called Simply Cola.
I went for the big can, which in Red Bull’s eyes, is 12 FL OZ (355 mL). It set me back $1.79. I took it back to my office and placed in on the desk. I looked at it. “Who are you?” I silently asked the drink. “Where did you come from?” My existential mindset was soon shattered, however, by an intrusive co-worker who accosted me with their interest. “Whatcha got there?” I was asked. “It’s a cola,” I said, “It’s new.” Silence. “No it’s not,” he chuckled, “That may be a new can, but it’s still a Red Bull.” Sigh. I really didn’t feel like explaining to this idiot that Red Bull now made cola as well as energy drinks. I really didn’t want to take the time to show this schlub where on the can it says “Simply Cola”, right underneath the Red Bull logo. I did, however, want to smash the can into his face; the face of an incompetent turd that I could not believe would dare to question my rationale as a consumer. “Why would I say that I bought a cola if I bought a Red Bull? You fucking scab!” I wanted to bellow, all the while driving broken twisted shards of aluminum into his neck. “So,” this person started up, “What’s the new Red Bull like?” Sigh. “I don’t know yet,” I replied, “I’ll let you know, OK?” Seemingly disappointed, my co-worker turned away, announcing on the way back to his cubical that, “Bryan thinks Red Bull is a cola.” Well, guess what asshole, now it is.
I cracked the can open and took a whiff. It was definitely an inviting smell. It reminded me by its scent of a lovely cola I had from Germany called Afri-Cola. I planted the can to my lips and took a sip. It sat well on the palate; not too fizzy, not at all flat. I swallowed a gulp. It went down well. The flavors were very nice, with hints of vanilla, coffee, ginger and lime. I immediately identified it by taste and compared it to Bolan’s brand cola, an American all natural soft drink. While the similarities were vast, I soon found myself liking the Red Bull Simply Cola much better. Did I mention that it’s all natural? Here are the ingredients:
Water, sugar, carbon dioxide, natural flavor (caramel), natural flavor from plant extracts (galangal, vanilla, mustard seed, lime, kola nut, cacao, licorice, cinnamon, lemon, ginger, coca leaf, orange corn mint, pine, cardamom, mace, clove), lemon juice concentrate, caffeine from coffee beans.
I drank the whole can, pleased with my purchase. But, time was to become my enemy. About three minutes after consuming the beverage, I started to phase out. In fact, I went out of my brain. My head, feeling like a balloon, left my body on a string and stopped at the ceiling. I pulled it back down and reattached it. “Am I dead?” I wondered, examining my hands and moving my fingers. No, I wasn’t dead, but I wished I was. Now, I’ve had Red Bull’s energy drink plenty of times, but never did it make me feel like this. Hell, I’ve even chomped on kola nuts and coffee beans before, but wow, did this new drink pack a punch. I didn’t know if I was simply being affected by the caffeine or if I was about to seize from a prolonged and greatly overlooked brain abnormality. All together, it took about thirty minutes for my heart to stop doing double time and for the black dots on my computer screen to stop jumping out at my face with faint screams; much like demons attempting to escape a deep and dark space.
Pros? Cons? Well, the positive is that it tastes great. Hands down. It’s a tasty all natural cola for sure. Cons? Well, it will take you to the brink of death, leaving you to dangle on the edge of sanity. With that said, it might not be for everybody. Also, if you’re a Coke fan, and you’re expecting a Coca-Cola flavor, stay away. Coke is Coke, folks. Furthermore, Pepsi is Pepsi. Natural is, well, natural. That’s just the way it is. So, with these things in place, such as, A) it has a great taste, but, it messes you up and B) it ain’t no Coke, but, it is natural, these elements can make Red Bull’s “Simply Cola” a confusing drink to rate and speculate on. What I do know, however, is that even with this cola’s natural appeal, Red Bull’s all you can eat chemical buffet that is their signature drink would certainly make it hard for anything green to pick up anything red. That is to say, stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s aren’t going to be stocking their shelves with this stuff anytime soon. But in all honesty, fuck ‘em. I think for the moment, 7-11 is a great home for “Simply Cola”, I do. I even foresee it having great urban reconstructive effects amongst many of our poorer and drug induced populations. I mean, a Red Bull cola is surely much cheaper than a WMD from off the corner and it takes you to the same place (we’re talking to the sky, here). Plus, if you drink enough Simply Colas in one sitting, I guarantee you will die. Now, that’s not a promise no other cola can make without years of dedicated drinking and substantial kidney abuse.